An Introduction to the Condom Catheter



Urinary tract infections are the most frequent health-care associated infection in the United States.  Urinary catheter use is common, with approximately one in five patients admitted to an acute care hospital receiving an indwelling catheter.  Each day of indwelling catheter use is associated with an approximate 5% increase of bacterium, although this is generally asymptomatic and requires no treatment. 

Indwelling catheters are particularly uncomfortable and awkward for men, especially if they need to continue using one as an outpatient.  Fortunately, there is an alternative: the condom catheter.  Recent studies have shown that an external catheter used during their hospital stay had an 80% reduction in the risk of urinary infection.  

Urinary tract infections are the most common type of infection to occur during a hospital stay and can lead to fevers and prolonged stays.  Other risk factors involved with prolonged indwelling catheter use include colonization of the drainage bag, diarrhea, diabetes, renal insufficiency, errors in catheter care, and debilitated states. 

A condom style catheter can be changed daily and is painless to apply.  It allows for greater mobility, remaining comfortable even for sports or traveling, and is unnoticeable even when wearing shorts.   Many condom catheters are designed for attaching extensive tubing and a more traditional leg bag if desired.  Leg and bed bags should be cleaned daily and changed monthly.

Indwelling catheters are often described as excruciatingly painful for male users.  While its use has begun increasing for other conditions requiring long-term or chronic use, such as for cerebral palsy or for paraplegics, a condom like catheter is used primarily by males who suffer from incontinence.  During long-term use, this style of catheter may be left in place all the time, or a patient may be instructed on a procedure for placing a catheter just long enough to empty the bladder and then removing it (known as intermittent self-catheterization).

The condom catheter is a simple rubber or synthetic sheath that is placed over the penis, in the same way that a condom is used for contraception.  Unlike a sexual condom, however, a catheter of this design has a plug to which a drainage tube is attached, allowing the urine to pass into a storage bag around the leg.  Another difference between the condom style catheter and a sexual condom is that the “Texas style” catheter is self-adhesive.  It is a non-invasive device and makes no contact with the mucosa of the urethra. 

 

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